“India Imagined: Heroes of the Past and Present” brought together artists across different age groups to show their interpretations

‘India Imagined: Heroes of the Past and Present', a show by some artists of repute, gave a sneak peak into what artists think of their national heroes. At times, it's good to mount a “put together” show, and give a free hand to artists of different age groups and experience to create their own impression on a given topic. With Independence Day round the corner, what could be a better topic than India's heroes of the past and the present, and then see what artists young and old churn out.

Teachers' Origin and The Nirula Family Art Trust joined hands recently in a bid to enlist their names among art promoters and put together an art show that included paintings, sculptures and sketches titled “India Imagined: Heroes of the Past and Present” at the Taj Mahal hotel this past week.

They brought artists of repute, like Arpana Caur and Sanjay Bhattacharya, along with emerging artists like Baba Anand, known for his highly stylised works, and promising young Abhishek, and a few others.

If Arpana's ‘India Imagined' is all about Guru Nanak bemoaning the blood-stained present, Bhattacharya's hero is Rahul Gandhi, AICC General Secretary, standing with a smile of hope against the backdrop of Kashmir. “After Rajeev, who tried his best to resolve the political conflict in Kashmir, India's hopes rest on his son,” says Bhattacharya. His trademark photographic quality in Rahul's oil-on-canvas portrait was one of the scene-stealers, apart from Abhishek's dynamic life-size pen-and-ink works on contemporary Ram and Krishna.

Abhishek's Ram is a highly stylised and dynamic work in which he seems to be almost taking the avatar of Arjuna of the Bhagwad Gita, with monkeys as his helps. His headgear is even suggestive of Guru Teg Bahadur, the fighter. “Today's Ram is much more in conflict than the Ram of yore. If Ram's fight was good versus bad, today's Ram has to first fight the enemies within his own family,” says Abhishek.

The kitsch style of Baba Anand was again shown in the glittery posters of Amitabh Bachchan's films Deewar and Don. To ‘match' the glitter of Bollywood, he pasted various avatars of Amitabh in one poster and showed him as today's hero. Raghu Rai's moving picture of Mother Teresa was another attraction. Three cartoons of man crumbled under the tainted cultural and political heritage defined as various scams, and a sculpture of a man crucified like Christ with his head masked, were other noteworthy works.